News Archive 2011
PVAO Blows Whistle to End Violence Against Women
Symbolically sealing its commitment to End Violence Against Women (VAW), the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office joined the simultaneous nation-wide blowing of whistle to end VAW last December 12, 2011 culminating the 18-Day Campaign.
Clad in violet Gender and Development (GAD) shirts, PVAO officials and employees also wore advocacy pins during their flag ceremony and signed a pledge cloth to convey their support to stop all forms of dicrimination and violence against women.
Led by Administrator Ernesto G. Carolina, officials and employees shouted in unison this year's theme chosen by the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW): "UNiTE: Stop Violence Against Women Now!"
Aside from the culminating event, PVAO also participated in the following GAD-related events:
- Public forum on Violence Against women organized by PCW, Ateneo Human Rights Center, and UN Women-Philippines (Nov. 25)
- Seminar on the Use of Non-Sexiest Language in All Forms of Communication (Nov. 25)
- Lecture on Erectile Dysfunction in Men (Dec. 2)
- Lecture on Menopause in Women (Nov. 23)
- DND-wide Forum on Violence Against Women at Kimberly Hotel Manila (Dec. 2)
- Seminar on Policy on Sexual Harassment in the Workplace attended by forty (40) PVAO employees (Dec. 7)
- Visit of Commission on Human Rights Chairperson & prominent GAD-vocate, Hon. Loretta Ann Rosales (Dec. 5)
PVAO Wows CHR Chair Etta Rosales with its IDAP & GAD Initiatives
Hon. Loretta Ann "Etta" Pargas-Rosales, Chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines (CHRP), lauded the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office for advancing dynamic Gender and Development (GAD) initiatives and implementing its Integrity Development Action Plan that produced tangible benefits for veterans and their beneficiaries.
This was during a flag ceremony at the PVAO Covered Court on December 5, 2011, which is one of the highlights of the agency's participation in the 18-Day Campaign to End Violence Against Women (VAW) from November 25 - December 12, 2011.
Addressing the men and women of PVAO, Chairperson Rosales imparted her knowledge and expertise on women's rights and anti-Violence Against Women (VAW) policies.
Chairperson Rosales, former Representative of the AKBAYAN Citizens' Action Party List from 1998-2007, also served as Chairperson of the Committee on Human Rights in the House of Representatives.
She marked that discrimination and violence against women, aside from overt physical manifestations, also happen in emotional and financial aspects. She also added that sensitivity with women's needs and individuality is the key to putting an end to all forms of abuses against women. Moreover, she said that although violence can happen to women of any age, class looks and economic background, the childern are also more vulnerable to various forms of violence, noting that most abuses start at home.
After the program, Chairperson Rosales joined the members of the PVAO Executive Committee for an agency briefing wherein she congratulated PVAO for its successful implementation of the Integrity Development Action Plan (IDAP). This paved the way to the forging of partnership between PVAO and CHR, not only in terms of GAD-related advocacies and initiatives, but also on the realization of Integrity Development Campaign in government agencies. She even invited the PVAO Administrator to present PVAO's success story on the 3rd Integrity and Human Rights Conference on December 14, 2011 which the Administrator gladly accepted.
Tarlaquenos benefit from PVAO-FILVETS Medical Outreach
Over 250 veterans and their legal dependents from the province of Tarlac benefited from the joint PVAO-FILVETS Medical & Dental Mission held in Camp Aquino, Tarlac last November 29, 2011.
In partnership with other veterans organizations such as KAMPILAN Peacekeepers Association, Inc. & AGFO Foundation, Inc. headed by Gen. Raul Urgello and Rotary Club of Pasay - MIA, the said medical mission was also able to give out five wheelchairs to deserving recipients.
PVAO Administrator Ernesto Carolina and some officials and employees were also present to address the concerns and queries of veterans regarding their benefits and pensions.
Central Luzon Veterans-Leaders Take Oath
Officers of the Philippine Veterans Legion (PVL) - Central Luzon Chapter took their oath-of-office before LtGen. Ernesto G. Carolina, Administrator of the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO), last November 26, 2011 in Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija.
"For the first time, an Undersecretary of National Defense traveled all the way here to Cabanatuan to visit the veterans," remarked Mr. Romeo B. Taruc, son of the late political leader, veteran Luis Taruc and President of the HUKBALAHAP Veterans Association (HUKVETS).
"Parang hindi kami naulila. Para kaming mga anak na hindi pinabayaan. Naging napakainit ng inyong pagtanggap sa amin nung kami'y bumisita sa inyo noon sa PVAO. And the fact that you are here shows that you are truly interested in the affairs and welfare of the veterans," continued the young Taruc.
HUKVETS is an affiliated organization of the PVL that is under the leadership of Prof. Teodoro P. Calica, the National Commander.
Administrator Carolina, in his remarks, rallied for unity among the veterans. "Dahil sa ating pagkakaisa, naroon ang ating lakas. Ngunit mahirap magkaisa kung hindi tayo organisado. Kaya dapat na ayusin natin ang ating hanay. Lahat ng beterano ay pantay-pantay. Kung tutuusin, tayo ay pinag-uugnay lamang ng isang bagay: mahal natin ang ating bayan."
After his remarks, the PVAO Administrator also led in the distribution of wheelchairs and adjustable walking canes to qualified recipients.
House Committee Conducts Hearing on RA 2460 Implementation
Rep. Herminia B. Roman (1st Dist., Bataan), Chairperson of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs and Welfare of the Fifteenth Congress presided the 6th Regular Meeting of the Sub-Committee overseeing the implementation of RA 2460 last October 12, 2011 at the AFPCOC Patio, Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.
The meeting that was attended by VFP officials, leaders of the veterans organizations chartered under the VFP and DND Undersecretary Eduardo G. Batac of the Civil, Veterans, and Reserve Affairs aims to oversee the implementation of RA 2640 or "An Act to Create a Public Corporation to be known as the Veterans Federation of the Philippines, Defining Its Powers, and for Other Purposes," under the direct supervision and audit of the Secretary of National Defense (SND) as affirmed by the ruling of the Supreme Court.
Implementing the decision of the High Court, Defense Sec. Voltaire T. Gazmin previously issued DND Department Circular No. 10 which provides for the "Strict Implementation of the Provisions of Republic Act No. 2640" and ordered the VFP to function as a government-owned and controlled corporation, amend its constitution and by-laws and conduct an inventory of all its assets, bank accounts, fees charged, and potential sources of revenues. The SND likewise upheld firmly that the VFP should function as an umbrella organization of veterans organizations, not a separate organization, through which the State should channel its benefits for the proper management and equal distribution among the veterans and their families.
Adopting the "to-do-list" presented by LtGen. Ernesto G. Carolina, Administrator of the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO), the legislators sought from the Veterans Federation of the Philippines (VFP) a Constitution & By-Laws approved by the SND that will serve as the basis in implementing RA 2640.
Realizing the urgency of the situation, the House Committee then created a Task Force that will finalize the VFP Constitution and By-Laws for the approval of the SND. It will consider the provisions and inputs of other veterans organizations to ensure that the terms in the said constitution and by-laws will give equal rights and benefits to all veterans regardless of their organizations and address the present realities. The Task Force will be composed of representatives from each of the 17 organizations chartered under the VFP. Rep. Mandanas has been designated Task Force Chairman to be assisted by Administrator Carolina as Co-Chairman.
"It will also be a good venue for us to review the definition of a 'veteran,'" Rep. Rodolfo Biazon of Lone District of Muntinlupa, said. With the increasing number of AFP retirees and the dwindling numbers of WWII veterans, PVAO Administrator Ernesto Carolina likewise noted that the finalization of the VFP Constitution and By-Laws will prove to be most prudent.
Members of the committee who joined the meeting were Reps. Rodolfo G. Biazon (Lone Dist., Muntinlupa), Rep. Hermilando Mandanas (2nd Dist, Batangas) and Rep. Ma. Theresa Bonoan-David (4th Dist., Manila).
ASEAN Veteran Leaders Exchange Best Practices at VECONAC Meeting
Leaders of veterans organizations from Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar exchanged best practices on veterans affairs management in Bali, Indonesia for the 24th Executive Board Meeting of the Veterans Confederation of the ASEAN Countries (VECONAC) last September 25-28, 2011.
VECONAC, an organization of veterans from South East Asia, aims to unify and strengthen the collective efforts of veteran organizations in the region to serve the interest of veterans, including the disabled and war victims. This is done by maintaining a strong alliance among member-countries through open dialogues and country reports that facilitate exchange of ideas and best practices among the countries' respective veterans organizations.
PVAO Administrator Ernesto G. Carolina headed the Philippine delegation, which was represented by Veterans Federation of the Philippines (VFP) officials namely: Atty. Melosino L. Respicio, RVP for Region II; Mr. Felix Miguel, RVP for Region II; and Mr. Leandro T. Pacio Jr, RVP for Region IX.
Upon his return, the PVAO Administrator said that he brought back with him a wealth of experience and best practices generously shared by his counterparts from the participating countries.
Veterans organizations from Laos, Brunei Darussalam, Vietnam, and Thailand have led in the strengthening of the veterans' household economy by supporting the agriculture and livestock activities of veterans based on their local conditions and national potential. All countries have also taken a key role in allocation of land for agriculture production and construction of houses for war veterans who do not have any permanent shelter. The government of Thailand, in fact, carries out their projects according to the assistance guideline mentioned in the Royal Speech: "Help veterans so they can help themselves;" thus, they have provided training course and financial assistance to agricultural projects, such as coffee plantation, mushroom farming, organic fertilizer production, and machinery repair for veterans and ex-servicemen.
For its part, the Indonesian government advances the welfare of their veterans by consistently improving its Veterans Act which now includes 75% discount of property tax, 30% fare discount by state-owned transportation agencies, improved health care benefits in the government hospital for the veterans and the inclusion of personnel who served in Peacekeeping Operations of the United Nations in the ranks of veterans.
Singaporean veterans, meanwhile, consider it their main goal to foster a closer link between the active and the ex-regular servicemen. Members of the SAFVL regularly go back to camps and share their experiences with the younger members of the SAF.
The 2012 VECONAC General Assembly will be held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
PEFTOK Veterans Share Korean War Experience
Korean War Symposium Suceeds in Planting 'Seeds of Heroism'
Veterans Ernesto A. Venturina, Jovencio P. Dominguez, Faustino Tumamak and Francisco S. Tamondong of the 19th and 10th Battalion Combat Teams, Philippine Expeditionary Forces to Korea (PEFTOK) shared real-life battle experience in a symposium titled "Korean War: PEFTOK's Greatest Battles" on August 31, 2011 at the National Defense College of the Philippines auditorium.
Organized to remember the valuable participation of the PEFTOK veterans during the Korean War from 1950-1953, three distinguished historians also each gave a lecture on selected highlights of the Korean War. Mr. Art Villasanta, son of the Korean War correspondent Johnny F. Villasanta, discussed "The Origins of the Korean War" followed by Professor Rico Jose of the University of the Philippines-Diliman on the "Battle of Yuldong," and Professor Janet Atutubo of the University of Santo Tomas who lectured on the "Battle of Hill Eerie."
A well-mix of high school students, members of the academe, representatives from the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines, descendants of Korean War veterans, and the Korean War veterans themselves attended the symposium. An open forum facilitated by Dr. Evelyn A. Songco, President of the Philippine Historical Association ensued thereafter.
Julito Velasco, Jr., a sophomore student of Quirino High School, shared his discovery during the symposium, "Hindi lang pala sa bansa lumalaban ang ating mga sundalo. Ngayon ko lang nalaman na tumutulong din pala tayo sa ibang bansa. Napatunayan ko ngayon na matapang talaga ang Pilipino, inspirasyon ko ang mga beterano."
Ms Disuanco, a social studies teacher of Jose P. Laurel National High School, said that the symposium was a "very meaningful activity," where participants had an "in-depth view of the Korean War. Pinapagtibay nito na buhay - mga totoong tao - ang ibinubuwis sa giyera."
Her student, Francis Jerimiah Manaog, a sophomore student of Jose P. Laurel National High School, already had plans on what he learned from the symposium: "Ang pinaka-importante kong natutunan dito sa symposium ay love of country dahil ito ang kulang sa bayan natin ngayon eh. Mahal nila ang country nila kaya hindi nila hahayaang bumagsak. Kailangang ipamahagi ito (aking mga natutunan) sa iba kong friends. We were given a wonderful opportunity to attend [the symposium], so dapat lang na i-share din namin ito sa iba."
The symposium was organized by the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) and the PEFTOK Veterans Association, Inc. (PVAI) in cooperation with the Philippine Historical Association as part of a series of activities on the occasion of the 2011 Korean War Veterans of the Philippines Memorial Day.
Pro-Filipino WWII Veterans Bills Get US Congress Support
Four bills intended to benefit Filipino World War II veterans and their families get support from members of both Houses of the United States Congress.
These bills include Senate Resolution 1141 - A Bill to exempt children of certain Filipino World War II veterans from the numerical limitations on immigrant visas and for other purposes; House Resolution 2115 - Filipino Veterans of World War II Family Reunification Act - A Bill to exempt children of certain Filipino World War II veterans from the numerical limitations on immigrant visas; House Resolution 2116 - Filipino Veterans Family Reunification Act of 2011 - A Bill to Exempt Children of Certain Filipino World War II veterans from the numerical limitations on immigrant visas and for other purposes; House Resolution210 - Filipino Veterans Act of 2011 - A Bill to amend Title 38, United States Code, to deem certain service in the organized military forces of the Government of the Commonwealth of the Philippines and the Philippine Scouts to have been active service for purposes of benefits under programs administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
Among the US legislators who conveyed support the above bills from the Upper House are Senators Daniel K. Innouye (D-HI) & Robert Menendez (D-NJ), while the veterans' allies in the Lower House include Reps. Jackie Speier (D-CA); Bob Filner (D-CA), Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI); Steve Austria (R-OH7); Judy Chu (D-CA32); Michael Honda (D-CA15); Eni Faleomaga (AS); Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI1); and Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA7).
The first three bills were referred to the Committee on the Judiciary as these pertain to immigration while H.R. 210 was referred to the Veterans Committee.
"PVAO-An Exemplary IDR Agency," Says Ombudsman
"PVAO has always been a source of pride - an exemplary agency that puts at its best the IDR discipline," said Atty. Rafael G. Hipolito, the newly-assigned Resident Ombudsman for the Department of National Defense , Armed Forces of the Philippines - Philippine Navy and Philippine Veterans Affairs Office during a special Executive Committee (Execom) Meeting at the PVAO Conference Room on August 03, 2011.
Administrator Ernesto G. Carolina welcomed Atty. Hipolito with an agency briefing to update him of the progress the agency has reached in implementing the Integrity Development Action Plan (IDAP) and the changes in organizational structure & distribution of tasks pursuant to the approved function-based plantilla of PVAO. Prior to the briefing, Atty. Romeo S. Lazo, Deputy Administrator, introduced the division and section chiefs who are also members of the ExeCom.
Atty. Hipolito is not really a newcomer in PVAO, having been a member of the Integrity Development Review (IDR) team that helped the agency formulate its IDAP.
Addressing the PVAO officials, Atty. Hipolito also said that he comes with marching orders from Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales whose idea of eradicating corruption is "nipping it on the bud." A retired Justice of the Philippine Supreme Court, Ombudsman Carpio-Morales whose appointment to lead the constitutional body was announced during the July 2011 State of the Nation Address of Pres. Benigno C. Aquino III, identified as priority the drafting of terms of references for big ticket contracts involving public agencies to ensure that those projects will benefit the people.
Atty. Hipolito thanked the PVAO Management for the warm reception and for walking him around PVAO's various office buildings after the briefing to familiarize him with the re-clustering of offices that has taken place
Admitted to the Philippine Bar in 1999, Atty. Hipolito continued his pursuit of higher learning in prestigious academic institutions such as the Asian Institute of Management and the University of Hongkong. The young and energetic Ombudsman finished his International Postgraduate Certificate Course in Corruption Studies in 2004 with Distinction.
He first joined government service as a Legal Officer in the Department of Agriculture in 1997 before transferring to the Office of the Ombudsman in the year 2000. He was a member of the Drafting Committee on the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Anti-Red Tape Law. He was also part of the Philippine Delegation which drafted the Terms of Reference for the Implementation Review Mechanism of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC), Vienna Austria after which he served as an assessor in the Pilot Implementation Review of UNCAC, Bogota, Republic of Columbia.
Atty. Hipolito, or Raffy to his peers succeeded Atty. Katherine C. Jambaro-Altubar who was also instrumental to the crafting of PVAO's IDAP. Atty. Kath has been reassigned to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) where she would definitely share her wealth of experiences as an effective resident ombudsman
Rep. Lani Assures Support to Veterans' Agenda
Lady legislator Lani Mercado - Revilla assured her support for legislative measures advancing veterans' welfare in the 15th Congress during a flag-ceremony program last July 11, 2011 at the PVAO Covered Court in consonance with the Gender and Development (GAD) plan being implemented by the agency.
Rep. Mercado-Revilla was chosen by the PVAO-GAD Committee as its fourth GAD-vocate for her versatility as a legislator, a devoted spouse to Sen. Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr. and a hands-on mother to her children and grand-children. She was preceded by Dr. Pilar H. de Ocampo, Atty. Anthonette V. Allones and former Rep. Riza Hontiveros-Baraquel. These epitomes of women power were invited to inspire agency employees to nurture a gender-sensitive environment that protects and promotes the rights of both employees and clientele.
The representative of Cavite's second district brought warmth to a gloomy Monday weather as she apprised the officers and employees of the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office on her accomplishments as a law-maker. Her being a neophyte in a male-dominated Congress has not deterred her from actively joining 16 congressional committees in varying capacity as chairperson, vice-chairperson or member
To date, she has authored 35 bills and co-authored 75 bills of local and national significance, majority of which grants state protection and/or benefits to the marginalized sectors of the society - the women, children and the elderly. Among the bills she co-authored was House Bill No. 4359, An Act Providing For The Payment Of The Total Administrative Disability Pension to Senior Veterans of Wars and Military Campaigns approved by the Lower House on May 31, 2011 and transmitted to the Senate on June 02, 2011.
Jesusa Victoria Hernandez in real life, Rep. Lani is a daughter of the late Maj. Vicente Lagrosa Hernandez and Old Age Pensioner Justa Garcia Hernandez. Her father was a USAFFE veteran who continued serving in the Armed Forces of the Philippines as a member of the Philippine Constabulary. During the Sunset Ceremony at the Libingan ng mga Bayani on April 11, 2011 this year, she accepted the Posthumous Award for Gallantry in Action conferred on her father by PVAO.
After the program, Rep. Mercado-Revilla graciously stayed for photo-ops with agency employees and joined the members of the PVAO Executive Committee for an agency briefing at the PVAO Conference Room.
MRI Machine Boosts VMMC Capability
The Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) recently received a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machine from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (USDVA) during a dedication ceremony held last June 29, 2011.
His Excellency Harry K. Thomas Jr., Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of the Philippines, led the turnover of the MRI machine with Director Jon Skelly of the US Department of Veterans Affairs (USDVA) Manila Regional Office and USDVA Manila Clinic Manager Dennis Brink. USec. Eduardo G. Batac, Undersecretary for Civil, Veterans, and Reserve Affairs, represented Hon. Voltaire T. Gazmin, Secretary of National Defense. Joining him was PVAO Administrator, Lt. Gen. Ernesto G. Carolina AFP (Ret.).
Dr. Nona Legaspi, VMMC Director, received the MRI grant on behalf of the veterans community together with Dr. Franklin V. Gali, VMMC Assistant Director; Dr. Dominador Chiong Jr., VMMC Chief of Professional Staff; and members of the professional and medical staff of VMMC.
The said MRI Machine costs approximately $1.3 million or P55.9 million. Since 2003, the USDVA has donated over $5.7 million of medical equipment such as CT scan, radiography, fluoroscopy and portable X-ray machine, and dialysis machines to the Veterans Hospital in line with an equipment grant program to VMMC, which the USDVA Secretary Eric Shinseki committed to continue.
MRI is an advanced diagnostic technology that can provide detailed images of organs and tissues within the body. It is an imaging instrument that uses powerful magnets and radio waves to create pictures of the body. The image and resolution produced by MRI is detailed and accurate that it can detect tiny changes of structures within the body that CT scans, ultrasound, and X-rays cannot. This preventive health screening can provide an early detection and diagnosis of cancer and other abnormalities such as brain trauma caused by bleeding or swelling, brain aneurysms, stroke, brain tumors, as well as inflammation of the spine. It can also provide valuable information on glands, organs, soft tissues, joints, and bones of the body. Surgeries are also often more accurately directed after knowing the results of an MRI scan.
As of present, VMMC is currently undergoing training and establishing medical protocol or special operating procedures in the proper operation and administration of the MRI Machine.
Veterans and their dependents may avail of the MRI scanning at no cost. Meanwhile, PVAO and VMMC employees and their dependents are entitled to a 20% discount.
VMMC: A Tradition of Service to the Filipino Veterans
The Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) is the primary medical facility that provides hospitalization, medical care and treatment to veterans and their families. Formerly known as the Veterans Memorial Hospital, VMMC was officially inaugurated on November 1955 through the joint efforts of the Philippine Government and the United States Government for the benefit of the thousands of Filipino soldiers who fought alongside the US Armed Forces during World War II.
Congresswoman Edith Nourse Rogers of Massachusetts authored a bill - aptly called Rogers Act - which gave the President of the United States the authority "to provide aid to the Republic of the Philippines in the form of grants not to exceed $22,500,000 for the construction and equipping of necessary hospital facilities for exclusive use of disabled Filipino World War II veterans." This was eventually realized when then US President Truman signed Public Law 865 in 1948, which appropriated funds for the construction of a veteran's hospital in the Philippines. As counterpart to the appropriated amount, then Philippine President Elpidio Quirino issued Proclamation 169 which reserved 54.9 hectares of land in Quezon City for the hospital site.
Today, the VMMC is a leading tertiary medical institution that boasts of up-to-date diagnostics, therapeutic, and rehabilitation equipments. Patients seeking medical attention can avail of general and specialty services from its Clinical & Ancillary Departments: Department of Medicine, Department of Surgery, Department of Pulmonary Diseases, Department of Opthalmology, Department of Otorhinolaryngology-HNS, Department of Psychiatry, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Department of Pediatrics, Department of Anesthesiology, Out-Patient Department (Family Medicine), Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Department of Pathology, Department of Nuclear Medicine & Research, Department of Radiology & Radiotherapy, and Department of Dental Medicine.
But more than its facilities and services, VMMC stands out from other medical institutions because of its special clientele and the purpose for whom it was founded - our living heroes, the Filipino veterans.
Giving Our Veterans the Extra Care They Deserve
In caring for over 250,000 veterans and their dependents, PVAO has expanded its hospitalization and medical services to include particularly those who are residing in the provinces.
Aside from the free health services at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC), veterans and their qualified dependents are entitled to a subsidy of P800/day of confinement for a maximum of 45 days per year at any of the 250 PVAO-accredited government hospitals nationwide. The veteran or his/her dependents simply has to present a PVAO Pensioner's ID or, if in the province, a PVAO-issued Certification as Pensioner to the billing section of the hospital prior to the day of discharge, after which the billing personnel shall deduct the said medical allowance on top of other discounts such as PhilHealth and Senior Citizen's discounts.
In addition to this, PVAO and VMMC have also recently added cataract surgery, dentures, orthopedic implants, and hernia mesh in its list of subsidized hospitalization benefits. These can be utilized regardless if the veteran is a confined or outpatient of VMMC or a PVAO-VMMC accredited government hospital.
PVAO has also entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with PhilHealth in 2009 to assist over 10,760 eligible living WWII veterans in their PhilHealth application and benefits. PVAO will cover the veteran's one year premium. To date, 1,027 have been processed and been given their PhilHealth membership ID.
For the road ahead, PVAO is working for the legislation and appropriation of funds for the establishment of Veterans Hospital in Visayas and Mindanao. Meanwhile, PVAO continues to work in partnership with FILVETS in subsidizing outreach operations of FILVETS in its regular conduct of medical and dental missions in areas covered by their 11 medical outreach clinics nationwide. All these to give our veterans the extra care they deserve.
"Veterans' Dialogue" - A New Beginning
Filled with renewed hopes, leaders and members of various veterans' organizations gathered during the recent "Veterans' Dialogue" held last July 5, 2011 at the Main Restaurant in AFP Commissioned Officers' Club in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.
"There can be no moment of honor and grandeur to freedom-loving Filipinos than a Veterans' Dialogue that we are having now," said Justice Manuel Pamaran as he delivered the opening remarks.
The meeting, which was well-represented by different chartered veterans' organizations under the Veterans Federation of the Philippines (VFP), affiliated organizations , and Sons and Daughters associations, proved to be a good venue for the veterans to express their concerns and ask questions on various issues affecting the veterans' community - particularly on veterans' benefits and VFP.
Mr. John Maglalang, representative of Hon. Rodolfo Biazon for the said event, was encouraged by the forum and requested for a copy of the questions turned in during the forum. He confirmed that there will be a second part to the dialogue, which will be hosted by Hon. Biazon himself. Leaders of different veterans and retirees' organizations will be notified and thus encouraged to join.
An Area Fit for a National Shrine Proposed During the 113th Independence Day Celebration
June 12, 2011 - Joining the simultaneous flag-raising and wreath-laying ceremony held across the country in celebration of the 113th anniversary of the Proclamation of Philippine Independence, PVAO Administrator Ernesto G. Carolina told the Manila City Government and the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) to improve the area of the Mausoleo de los Veteranos de la Revolucion in the Manila North Cemetery.
"We need a bigger space around the mausoleum so we can hold special commemorative events such as today. This will enable more people - particularly the students who are joining us now - to better appreciate and value the significance of the heroic Filipinos who fought for our freedom during the Philippine Revolution," the Administrator stressed.
Representing the National Defense Secretary Voltaire T. Gazmin, the Administrator further expressed his observations regarding the congested state of the mausoleum and proposed that its vicinity be cleared, even within an area of at least 500 sqm to make the place "fit for a national shrine."
Noting the presence of the WWII veterans during the event, the Administrator also read the prepared message of Secretary Gazmin citing that: "It is for them and their countless fellow revolutionaries that we dedicate the honor of this pleasant commemoration."
Also in attendance were Honorable Nino M. dela Cruz, Councilor of the 1st District of Manila, who represented the Office of the Mayor of Manila; Architect Wilkie B. Delumen of the Historic Preservation Division, NHCP, and; Mrs. Gemma Cruz-Araneta, Vice Chairman of the Manila Historical and Heritage Commission. Elements from the AFP NCR Command and PNP led by MGen. Tristan Kison and C/Supt. Miguel Laurel, respectively, were also present to provide security and ceremonial support.
More significantly, the yearly commemoration was attended by students from Jose Abad Santos National High School, Ramon Magsaysay National High School, and Manuel L. Quezon High School.
Filipipno Veterans Community Urged at PVL 65th Anniversary
"Let's unite and do what's right." - PVAO Administrator Ernesto G. Carolina continues to audaciously echo this battle cry as he spoke during the 65th National Convention of the Philippine Veterans Legion (PVL) held last June 4, 2011 at AGFO Center in Quezon City.
Recognizing the PVL as one of the foremost and prestigious veterans' organizations in the Philippines founded in 1946, Administrator Carolina reminded the PVL members of their vision to foster unity among different veterans organizations in their desire to obtain the best support the government can give to the veterans. "At your 65th anniversary, this remains to be an unfulfilled dream," the Administrator challenged.
As of present, there are about 400 members of PVL, majority of whom are composed of the veterans' surviving spouses and their sons and daughters. Given this current status, the Administrator advocated the move to strengthen the participation of the veterans' spouses and their sons and daughters in the veterans' organizations.
"Kailangang mapagtibay natin ang isang maayos na organisasyon para sa mga beterano kung saan ang bawat isa ay may boses, nakaboboto, at nalalaman ang nangyayari sa loob ng organisasyon," the Administrator asserted. He also pushed for corrective and legal measures that will address several inconsistencies in the administration of the veterans' affairs and organizations.
Accordingly, the Administrator informed the members of the PVL of the newly-created division in PVAO, which was tasked to look into the various affairs of the veterans and their respective organizations. "We now have the Veterans Affairs and Management Division (or VAMD), which was approved by the Department of Budget and Management. They will specifically look into the concerns of all the veterans' organizations, especially the 17 chartered ones."
After his speech, the Administrator together with the PVL officers, headed by PVL Acting National Commander, Commander Ricardo Madayag, gave a special posthumous tribute to the late Atty. Salvador A. Princesa.
Also present in the convention, who also gave their respective messages in support of PVL, were: Hunters ROTC President, Justice Manuel Pamaran, who represented the Office of the Mayor of Manila; Ms. Eva Luna of the House of Representatives Committee on Veterans Affairs and Welfare, and; Mr. Nicolas Pamperin, the Deputy Director of the US Department of Veterans Affairs.
Veterans' Future Discussed in The 65th VFP Supreme Council Meeting
"The future of the veterans" - This is what PVAO Administrator Ernesto G. Carolina boldly laid out during the opening session of the 65th Regular Meeting of the Supreme Council of the Veterans Federation of the Philippines (VFP).
The Administrator, who represented DND Secretary Voltaire T. Gazmin as the guest of honor and speaker, related that there is a growing shift in the members of the Filipino veterans community, with an increasing number of AFP retirees not only among the pensioners of PVAO but even among the commanders of VFP.
"We have about 27,000 living World War II veterans as of today," reported the Administrator, "meanwhile, we have about 23,000 Post World War II/AFP veterans, of whom about 1,000 are added annually. With this trend, along with the reality of dwindling veterans of World War II, the Filipino veterans' community will soon have a majority of AFP retirees in the next five years."
The Administrator then exhorted that the VFP, as a public corporation recognized by the government through RA 2640, should strengthen its organization by attracting and inviting more AFP retirees, including the existing AFP retirees' organizations, to join and be recognized under the umbrella organization of VFP. "The VFP is the only viable organization to form a unified Filipino veterans' community and we will continue to partner and support VFP in carrying out its responsibility of promoting the veterans' welfare," the Administrator concluded.
Meanwhile, during the second part of the program, PVAO Deputy Administrator Atty. Romeo S. Lazo presented various service improvements in PVAO, which includes the One-Stop Shop, Direct Remittance Pension Servicing System (DRPSS), Revalidation System, and updates on the payment of Total Administrative Disability (TAD) arrears. Afterwards, Dr. Dominador Chiong of the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) also presented the improvement in the VMMC facilities.
Among the questions and concerns raised by the veterans after the presentations were: the availability of medical services (or the establishment of VMMCs) in other areas, particularly in Visayas and Mindanao, and the failure of some government hospitals in the province to recognize the veterans, even those who presented a PVAO Pensioner's ID. These issues were clarified during the ensuing open forum.
A booth for PVAO was also set-up to address the inquiries of the VFP commanders and regional vice-presidents present in the meeting.
PVAO Joins the 69th Hunters ROTC Annual Convention
In a show of solidarity and support, PVAO officers, headed by Administrator Ernesto G. Carolina, joined the 69th Hunters ROTC Annual Convention and 36th Anniversary Celebration of Sons and Daughters of Hunters ROTC Guerillas, Inc. (SDHI) last May 15, 2011 at the San Juan Gymnasium in Taytay, Rizal.
With the theme, "Hunters at Salinlahi: Sama-sama sa Pagtahak sa Matuwid na Landas Tungo sa Pagbabago," over 300 veterans and their dependents from NCR, Cavite, Rizal, and Laguna gathered and listened to their leaders and guests, who gave inspiring messages of unity and commitment to the legacy of heroism and selfless service to the country.
In his welcome remarks, Hunters ROTC president, Justice Manuel R. Pamaran, said that the convention is a reunion and a time to remind themselves of how they, as brothers, shared and lived as one. Meanwhile, in his closing remarks, Hunters ROTC Supremo, Col. Frisco F. San Juan, focused on the value of tradition of honor and good values. He said that we need more men and women who are not only willing to fight, but also bleed for the country.
As one of the guests, Administrator Carolina congratulated the Hunters ROTC for its "69 years of brotherhood." He emphasized that the key to unifying the Filipino veterans community is to strengthen the ROTC, which sadly has a dwindling number of cadets, and to revive the strong links with PMA. These institutions are supposed to train the youth to become active participants in nation-building.
After the Administrator's message, PVAO officers facilitated the distribution of several wheelchairs and walking sticks to selected veterans and their dependents.
Also present in the occasion are Taytay Mayor Ricardo George Gacula and Rizal Provincial Vice-Governor Frisco S. San Juan, Jr., who is also the son of the Hunters ROTC Supremo Col. Frisco F. San Juan.
The Hunters ROTC was founded by cadets of the Philippine Military Academy and various ROTC units in universities and colleges who banded after the fall of Bataan to carry on the resistance movement against the Japanese invaders. They provided invaluable intelligence and led the most daring raids during the Second World War.
Battle of Piis Memorial Marker Unvelied
Km. 134, Piis, Lucban, Quezon - The Battle of Piis Memorial Marker was recently unveiled on this specific site last May 2, 2011 in honor of all the soldiers who gave up their lives to defend the said junction. The battle lasted for two days, wherein Filipino soldiers from the USAFFE, Philippine Scouts, and local guerrillas participated and succeeded in delaying the Japanese Landing Forces in advancing to Manila during World War II.
The unveiling ceremony was well-attended by World War II Veterans of Quezon Province, veteran representatives of The American Legion, local government officials, teachers and students from nearby schools and academies, Southern Luzon Command (SOLCOM) headed by SOLCOM Commander Lt. Gen. Detabali, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) Executive Director Emelita Almosara, the PVAO officers headed by Administrator Ernesto G. Carolina, and the family of the late Commander Francisco Cedula.
The said marker was initially proposed by the late Commander Francisco Cedula, who was a veteran and a survivor of the Battle of Piis, together with the Filipino-American Veterans of Nevada. After several meetings and coordination between the NHCP, PVAO, the local government of Lucban, Quezon, DPWH, and the family of the late Cmdr. Cedula, the proposal was finalized and the construction of the marker was immediately undertaken.
In his message during the program, Administrator Carolina highlighted the importance of discovering and preserving the history of our country through writing of historical books and including history as one of the major subjects in school. Accordingly, the Administrator and the NHCP Executive Director Almosara donated historical books to the Samanghang Pangkasaysayan, a historical society in Lucban, Quezon during the event.
The program was culminated through an Open Forum at Lucban Academy, where PVAO officers and staff attended to the queries of World War II veterans of Lucban and their dependents.
The Battle of Piis was fought on December 26, 1941.
PVAO-FILVETS medical mission benefits 200 veterans and dependents from Orani, Bataan
Hundreds of veterans and surviving spouses of deceased veterans in Orani, Bataan benefited from medical and dental mission jointly sponsored by PVAO and Filipino Veterans Foundation (FILVETS) Inc. on 28 April 2011.
A total of 200 veterans and surviving spouses from the different barangays of Orani, Bataan received free medical and dental consultations and free medicines from PVAO in partnership with FILVETS. Aside from the medical and dental consultations, wheelchairs and canes were also given to veterans-patients in need.
Congresswoman Herminia B. Roman, Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs and Welfare attended the activity and thanked the PVAO and FILVETS officials for bringing the services closer to the veterans in Orani, Bataan. Administrator Ernesto G. Carolina in his message, acknowledged the continuous support of Congresswoman Roman in initiating legislation that would upgrade the benefits of veterans.
The PVAO-FILVETS medical mission is one of the activities under the PVAO-FILVETS partnership geared towards providing health care services to Filipino veterans residing in far flung provinces who cannot avail of the services of the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC).
US Senator Daniel Inouye meets Filipino WWII Veterans
Senator Daniel Ken Inouye, President pro tempore of the United States Senate and Chairman of the Committee on Appropriations, met with Filipino WWII Veterans in a simple gathering of patriots and friends on April 26, 2011 at the DND Social Hall after his customary courtesy call on Defense Secretary Voltaire T. Gazmin.
WWII veterans represented by leaders of various veterans organizations expressed their gratitude to Senator Inouye by presenting a Resolution thanking him for his deep commitment in giving justice and equity to the Filipino Veterans. Secretary Gazmin, a son of a WWII veteran, led in the presentation of the resolution.
Senator Inouye authored the Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation (FVEC) Fund that was included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which appropriated $198 M for the one-time payment of $15,000 to Filipino WWII veterans who are US citizen and $9,000 to Filipino WWII veterans who are non US citizens. Through the initiative of Senator Inouye in July 2010, an additional $67M was added to FVEC Fund raising the total of $265M. As of December 2010, almost 18,000 Filipino WWII veterans received their one-time payment.
In his remarks, Senator Inouye recounted the commitment made by then US President Roosevelt in 1941 to give full US veterans benefits to Filipino veterans. This promise was rescinded by law in 1946. "When I learned about this, I was ashamed of what my country did" the Senator said. Senator Inouye ended by thanking the Filipino veterans for the friendship and warm welcome during his visit.
60th Anniversary of the Battle of Yuldong Commemorated
Philippine Expeditionary Force to Korea (PEFTOK) veterans led by the PEFTOK Veterans Association, Inc (PVAI) President, Col. Paterno V. Viloria with Ambassador Hye Lee Min from the Republic of Korea, PVAO Administrator Ernesto G. Carolina and other PVAO officials, Senior AFP Officials led by MGen. Romeo D. Lustestica AFP, members of the Foreign Attache Corps and other dignitaries commemorated the 60th Anniversary of the Battle of Yuldong on 14 April 2011 at the Korean Memorial Pylon, Libingan ng mga Bayani, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.
It was 60 years ago when the Philippines, the first Asian country and the third among the 16 UN member-nations, responded to the United Nations Security Council Resolution No. 83 dated June 27, 1950. The Philippines sent five Batallion Combat Teams (BCTs) to help South Korea save their country from the communists. The Korean War of June 25, 1950 to July 27, 1953 - the first and last World War between democracy and communism - took the lives of 112 fighting men of the PEFTOK, wounded 299 others while 16 men remain officially missing-in-action to this day. The Battle of Yuldong was just one of the many victories of PEFTOK during the Korean War.
The highlight of the event was the wreath laying ceremony followed by the commemorative program dedicated to the PEFTOK veterans. PVAO Administrator Carolina, in his message, paid tribute to the PEFTOK veterans by recounting in detail the gallantry, heroism and selfless acts of the Filipino patriots who served during the Korean War. Ambassador Hye Lee Min, the Guest of Honor, in his speech, mentioned the contribution of former Senator Ninoy Aquino as war correspondent who at the age of 17 covered the war and was exposed to the same risks as the combatants. The role of former President Fidel Ramos who led the platoon that secured the strategically vital Hill of Eerie was also highlighted. He ended by saying that the Korean government together with the Philippine government will continue to endeavor to uphold the legacy of the PEFTOK and assured that the Republic of the Philippines and Republic of Korea will work together to even make their partnership even stronger for the next generations.
The program ended with the offering of flowers to the Korean Pylon for the PEFTOK heroes who sacrificed their lives for freedom and democracy.
Embassy Leads Commemoration of Araw ng Kagitingan
Shown in the photo above is Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia Jr. (left, foreground) in the wreath-laying ceremony at the World War II Memorial of the National Mall, being assisted by Major General Delfin Lorenzana (Ret), Head of the Office of Veterans Affairs of the Philippine Embassy.
08 April 2011, Washington DC. Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose L. Cuisia Jr. led the commemoration of Araw ng Kagitingan (Day of Valor), which is held to remember the fall of Bataan on April 9, 1942. A wreath-laying ceremony took place at the Bataan marker of the World War II Memorial at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Among those in attendance were five surviving Filipino World War II veterans - Angelino Tugado, Jesse Baltazar, Celestino Almeda, Rudy Panaglima and Ray Cabacar.
A reception ensued at the Philippine Embassy, where members of the Filipino-American community, local media and veterans' advocates were present. In his remarks, Ambassador Cuisia extolled the valor and gallantry of the defenders of Bataan. He noted that the holiday also honors the sacrifices of the Filipino and American veterans of World War II and recognizes their contribution to cementing the bonds of kinship between the Philippines and the United States.